Why Christmas Island Should Be on Your 2019 Bucket List

Why Christmas Island Should Be on Your 2019 Bucket List

Two islands have, at one time or another, carried the name Christmas Island. The Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean is today better known as Kiritimati and is part of the nation of Kiribati. It was documented by Captain James Cook on Christmas Eve in 1777. It was on this Christmas Island that Britain carried out a series of nuclear tests in the 1950s.

The second Christmas Island, which is still known by that name today, is located in the Indian Ocean. This island was identified on Christmas Day 1643 by Captain Willian Mynors of the East India Company’s ship Royal Mary.

The island measures 52 sq mi (135 km2) and is located 870 miles (1,400 km) northwest of Australia. It forms the top of an oceanic mountain, with the highest point on the island being Murray Hill at 1,184 feet (361 metres).

The location of Christmas Island. Credit: TUBS / Commons.

Changing hands

Christmas Island was first sighted in 1615, but it was Captain Mynors who named it nearly thirty years later – clearly a man somewhat lacking in inspiration. The first documented landing on the island came in 1688, when the crew of the Cygnet arrived on the west coast and collected wood and Robber Crabs.

The discovery of phosphate on the the island in the late 19th century led to its annexation by Britain. The Christmas Island Phosphate Company Ltd was granted a 99-year lease to mine the phosphate. A workforce of Chinese, Malays and Sikhs were transported to the island and set to work – often in appalling conditions.

During World War Two, the island was invaded and occupied by the Japanese, who sought it not only for the valuable phosphate deposits but also for its strategic position in the east Indian Ocean. The island was defended by a small garrison of 32 men, made up primarily of Punjabi troops under a British officer, Captain L. W. T. Williams.

By walking in the footsteps of two great chroniclers, John Stow and John Stripe, Dan Cruickshank discovers how London grew from a small medieval city into a vast sprawling wealthy metropolis during the 17th century.

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Yet before the Japanese attack even got under way, a group of the Punjabi soldiers mutinied and killed Williams and four other British officers. The Japanese were therefore able to land on the island unopposed on 31 March 1942.

A new dawn on Christmas Island

After World War Two, the Christmas Island Phosphate Company was sold to the governments of Australia and New Zealand, and in 1958 sovereignty of the island passed from Britain to Australia.

Today, the island has a population of just over 2,000. The people of the island are predominantly Chinese, Australian and Malay, and all are Australian citizens. About 63% of Christmas Island is a National Park, protecting its unique ecosystem.

Between October and December, the start of the wet season, the island is witness to one of the most remarkable spectacles of the natural world. The island’s red crab population embark on an epic migration from the forest to the coast to breed and spawn. The migration can last up to 18 days and sees millions of crabs make the journey, carpeting areas of the landscape.

Christmas Island Red Crab.


Welcome back to #blogmas! For today’s SECOND post I will be explaining the reasons why YOU should celebrate Christmas Jumper Day in aid of Save the Children. This year, we are celebrating on the 13th December, to be honest I’ve been wearing my Christmas jumpers every day since the 1st December.

EVERY CHILD OFFERS SOMETHING SPECIAL

We lead the way on tackling problems like pneumonia, hunger and protecting children in war, while making sure each child’s unique needs are cared for. We find new ways to reach children who need us most, no matter where they’re growing up. For a century, we’ve stood up for children and made sure their voices are heard. We wrote the treaty that sets out the rights of every child, and we’ve been upholding them every day since. We know we can’t do this alone. Together with children, supporters and partners, we work to help every child become who they want to be.” – Save the Children

Save the Children is a charity that supports children in the UK and across the entire world to make sure that all children are safe and happy. Without our children their is no hope for our future, to support them to learn, to grow and to become the person they were born to be.

WHY CHRISTMAS JUMPERS?

Christmas is about hope, a time of rebirth, a time of love and family. By simply wearing a Christmas Jumper and just giving £2 can truly help save a child and give them a new life.

It could help them grow up healthy and safe, and get an education, so they can grow up to be who they want to be.

Only a genuine asshole would think changing the lives of our children is pointless, and if you are that person I honestly suggest that you take a moment to read the five stories below of lives that have been completely changed for the better as a result of Save the Children.

So if you just do two things today, wear your jumper with pride and donate £2 you will prove to this world that you care about the future, that you care about our young people, and lastly you believe in hope.


Why Christmas is important in schools

When you’re caught up in the craziness of Christmas at school, you might find yourself muttering ‘Bah, humbug!’ But you should take comfort in the fact that the festivities will have a long-term, positive impact on your school. Dan Worth unwraps research revealing how Christmas brings children and teachers closer together, breaks down barriers in parental engagement, builds community links and even improves pupils’ learning

As the last tinsel is swept away and the final “Merry Christmas!” is shouted across the playground, you might be glad that the whole madness of Christmas in school – with all the planning, repetitive events, manic children and zany frivolity – is over for another year. You may even be one of those teachers who would rather such festivities were kept to a minimum or avoided altogether in school hours. After all, there’s a lot of curriculum content to get through.

But avoiding Christmas in schools – or resenting it – would be pretty foolish. Because in fact, that slightly chaotic carol .

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Why Christmas Matters. ( And Should Matter To Even Non-Christians)

December 25th is the day that Christians world-wide celebrate the traditional birth of Jesus Christ. The religious meaning to Christians is deeply felt. But Christmas, as well as Christians, are under relentless attack, both in Western Europe, and the United States. It parallels a similar rise in anti-Semitism that is also growing in both places. But Christmas is a symbol of something else, something of vital importance to all people, whether Christian or not. It symbolizes the Judeo-Christian value system that built Western civilization. And the United States in particular. And the concepts of liberty and freedom it was founded on.

Contrary to populist leftist propaganda, the Founding Fathers of the United States were mostly practicing Christians and Jews. The flames of freedom were fanned from pulpits in Churches and Synagogues during the American Revolution. And even though the Founders approached their belief system from differing points of view, the underlying principles of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of The United States were based on Judeo-Christian values. These two documents established the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans and have been a beacon to freedom movements around the world, even freedom movements of Non-Christians.

The Judeo-Christian value system is predicated on the concept that every human being is a reflection of his or her creator, and has certain inalienable rights. These are rights given by God, not by the government. And as such, the one and only responsibility of government is to protect those rights.

This value system brought Europe out of the Dark Ages. It allowed for the founding of the United States of America, a beacon of freedom to the entire world. It is the value system that allows tiny Israel to be an island of freedom and democracy in a sea of Muslim hatred and violence.

But this value system is under relentless attack, both by Muslim extremists on the outside, and the leftist populist atheists and agnostics on the inside. Numerous politicians and judges actively attack any symbol of Christianity. Prayer has been removed from schools, Christian monuments are being removed from public places, nativity scenes are being removed from public parks, athletes and coaches are being harassed and even fired for expressing their religious beliefs in public. All in the name of “Seperation of Church and state”. Nowhere in any of our founding documents is the term “Seperation of Church and state” to be found. Nowhere. This is a concept used by the left to pervert the meaning and intent of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which simply prohibits the government from establishing an official “government” religion, and at the same time allowing for the free expression of religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, nowhere in the Constitution does it give the Federal judiciary the right to make laws from the bench, or to even declare laws unconstitutional. It simply isn’t there.

The Judeo-Christian value system was the framework that made it possible for the Founding Fathers of the United States to form a bastion of freedoms and liberties for all people. believers and non-believers alike. Freedoms that even allow the leftist one worlders to attempt to destroy the very hand that has fed them.

It is the value system that motivated people from around the world to repel the barbaric invasions of nazis, communists, tyrants in various forms, and Muslim invasions of Europe. It is the value system that will eventually triumph over the current one.

There are too many people in the Western world who claim to be Christians, when in fact, if they were charged with it, there would not be enough evidence to convict them. Too many ‘Pastors” who are more worried about their IRS status, that speaking the truth.

Christmas matters. Because, in effect, it also celebrates the foundation of a set of principles, the Judeo-Christian value system, that allowed the codification of liberties and freedoms unprecedented in the history of mankind. Freedoms and liberties that too many people are willing to destroy, along with Christmas.


Christmas In Florida

What are the best drive-thru light shows in Florida?

Winter in Florida might not yield the same snow-based activities as other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to do the holidays right! When Christmas rolls around, expect to find a plethora of holiday decorations, especially of the drive-thru variety. Floridians are big on drive-thru light shows, where you can enjoy all of the magic without ever having to leave the comfort of your car. One of the best drive-thru light shows is at Daytona International Speedway . Millions of holiday lights are stretched throughout the track, making it a truly magical sight.

What are the best holiday events in Florida?

One of the best reasons to spend Christmas in Florida is to participate in all of the holiday events. Florida comes alive during Christmastime with the abundance of holiday activities that are perfect for the whole family. For instance, these 12 Christmas light displays will surely get you in the holiday spirit. Meanwhile, you can also sign up for the Polar Express train ride which can’t get more magical. Also, if you need to finish your Christmas shopping, then make sure to check out this German Christmas Market .

Where can I visit Santa in Florida?

While it might be hard to pinpoint exactly where Santa will pop up in Florida, there are always a few safe bets. For instance, anyone who is living in Florida knows that visiting Santa’s Farm is not only the best way to score a fresh Christmas tree, but also to snag a glimpse of the big man himself. Also, depending on the place, Santa usually makes an appearance one way or another in these 10 magical Christmas towns in Florida .


The Paradox of Christ’s Nativity

Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, by Murillo, c. 1655
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“In the beginning was the Word. and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life: and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Those first five verses are some of my favourites in the entire Bible – the succinct poetry of the King James’ version based on William Tyndale’s earlier translation, the brevity of the profound concepts being expressed, the vividity of the imagery employed…

I could expound for quite a while on the meaning of those verses, how John the Apostle was writing in a Greek cultural environment, spending much of his life evangelising in the Greek cities of what is now Turkey, and in exile on the Greek island of Patmos. Followers of Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle would have grasped better than we today what John was saying, his use of the word logos, here translated as the Word, but which here perhaps better means Reason or God’s Reason, as a metaphor for Christ, the rational law based order of His Creation implied by the word logos, his employment of the metaphor of Light for life giving Divine Wisdom and Truth, and Darkness for death dealing Ignorance and Evil… John was expressing the insights afforded by the life and teaching of Jesus in terms that a Greek of the day would comprehend, and to appreciate fully the significance of this you have to remember that Greek culture, ideas and language were the equivalent of English today – dominant in the ancient world – a Greek cultural and intellectual universe that stretched around the entire Mediterranean and as far as the Indus Valley and the Steppes of Central Asia.

But what I would like to do here is to explain what John is trying to tell us and why he starts his Gospel with this extraordinary passage of prose and not with the nativity of Jesus. John is here setting the scene for Jesus’ mission on Earth and saying that Jesus’ birth and life are the expression of God’s Reason – the Rational Nature of God’s Creation that follows physical laws, His plan, His unique physical intervention in the affairs of humanity, a species that all too easy wanders into darkness

So why come as a humble working-class baby, and not as a king or Emperor in full power as the Jewish theologians and scholars of the day had expected – that He did not is why they rejected Him after all? Is it not an incredible paradox that God came to Earth naked, vulnerable, defenceless, utterly obscure, and from the minute of His Birth was in danger of being murdered by the authorities?

And here I think we start to glimpse the way in which God works within His creation – He works according to His purposes and methods, not ours. He does not conform to our expectations but confounds them, as the Book Of Job discussed at length ‘His ways are not our ways’. This is why the ancient Jews and so many people today – they expect God to be trapped in their view of the way things should be done. His means of furthering His ends seem paradoxical, even nonsensical to us, but He is entirely rational in His lights if we step back and try to see the bigger picture.

We cannot on our own comprehend God by our own efforts any more than a microbe can comprehend a Blue Whale or the darkness can understand light. Our limited monkey descended brains can only grasp the simplest things that He has chosen to reveal of Himself to us – it’s why He came as an obscure baby and lived among us so that we can comprehend something of His message for us by way of the example of His life among us. He spoke in parables constantly that the uneducated could understand for this reason. It’s why the faithful must refrain from the temptation of “I know what God had for breakfast” hubris, why everything a Christian needs to know for faith is in the Bible and why they should resist the claims of clerics and “tradition” to gnosis (special knowledge) or higher understanding/authority in interpreting His message. Christ after all was vitriolic about the clerics and theologians of His own day.

Furthermore, He gave humanity the gift of Free Will because He wants us to love him willingly as He loves us. Love must be freely given to exist, otherwise it is not love. If He had come in power, as He has promised He will one day, had revealed Himself in full to us, we would be overwhelmed and our Freedom of Will destroyed by our awe, and so He had to come to Earth with His power masked in order to offer humanity another chance of redemption discreetly while maintaining our freedom of choice. Hence the apparent paradox of His coming as a defenceless baby, the utter subtlety of His management of Creation through the mechanisms of the Laws of Physics so that His fingerprints are almost entirely invisible to us.

For me, this is a conception of God revealed here by John entirely consistent with the God evoked by the first verses of the Creation allegory in Genesis, a God so much greater than that imagined by the likes of Dawkins, a God outside and within Time and Space, the Laws of Physics being just part of His logos, a God who works with such subtly that we cannot see Him, a God of paradoxes, a God who is so great that we in our darkness can only begin to comprehend His Will for us in the Light of Christ’s example and message. The metaphor of Divine light guiding a humanity lost in darkness is a powerful one indeed.

When the Saxon king Edwin of Northumbria was contemplating converting to Christianity in the 620s AD, the great Anglo-Saxon historian the Venerable Bede tells thus that he held a conference of his many counsellors and nobles to discuss the issue. Bede records that one noble summed up the decision to be made as follows…

“Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your thegns and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall outside the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms but after a moment of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for a little while but of what went before this life or of what follows, we know nothing. Therefore, if this new teaching has brought any more certain knowledge, it seems only right that we should follow it.”

Here we see our ancestors instinctively understood the metaphor of Divine Light for understanding of the human condition and the way out of human hubris and ignorance.

And that is what Christmas is about in the darkest time of the northern hemisphere’s year. The darkness would rather we don’t look at the light of Christ but remain in ignorance, would rather we don’t venture out to church on a mid winter dark night. It’s why we festoon our beautiful church with Christmas lights and candles, as do so many others, it’s why the faithful ask God to keep us in His light each and every day so that we don’t get lost in the darkness, it’s why we remember His paradoxical nature in choosing to be born as a humble baby, it’s why Christmas is a special time when we celebrate the blessings of our lives and families and friends right now.

May you live in the light and the darkness retreat from you as you journey through the next and every year to come, and may I wish you a very Happy Christmas.


How 25 Christmas Traditions Got Their Start

From its Puritan roots to complaints of rampant commercialism (“What is it you want?” Charlie Brown asks Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas. “Real Estate.”), Christmas in America has been filled with traditions, old and new. Some date back to 16th-century Germany or even ancient Greek times, while others have caught on in modern times.

Here’s a look at 25 ways Americans have celebrated the Christmas season, from singing songs and reciting poems to decorating trees and swapping cookies to drinking eggnog and wearing ugly sweaters.

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Christmas Trees -򠷬orated trees date back to Germany in the Middle Ages, with German and other European settlers popularizing Christmas trees in America by the early 19th century. A New York woodsman named Mark Carr is credited with opening the first U.S. Christmas tree lot in 1851. A 2019 survey by the American Christmas Tree Association, predicted that 77 percent of U.S. households displayed a Christmas tree in their home. Among the trees on display, an estimated 81 percent were artificial and 19 percent were real.

The Rockettes perform their annual Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

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The Rockettes - Since 1925, first known as the Missouri Rockets, this iconic dance troupe has been kicking up its heels, officially becoming the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes in 1934. From performing at movie openings to entertaining troops to making TV appearances, they’re perhaps best-known for their annual Christmas Spectacular.

Charlie Brown&aposs tree in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

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A Charlie Brown ChristmasDecades later, it may be hard to imagine that this beloved TV special inspired by Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip was first rejected by CBS executives. But when it finally aired on December 9, 1965, almost half of all U.S. TV sets were tuned to the broadcast, and the show went on to win an Emmy, a Peabody, an enduring following and even a trend of 𠇌harlie Brown” Christmas trees. “I never thought it was such a bad little tree,” Linus says in the special. “It&aposs not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

The Christmas pickle is designed to be hard to find.

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Christmas Pickles If there’s a pickle among your snowman, angel and reindeer ornaments, you’re likely taking part in the American tradition of hiding the green ornament on the tree, so that the first child to find it wins a gift, or gets to open the first present Christmas morning. The practice’s origins are a bit murky (or should that be briny?), but, it’s likely it grew from a Woolworths marketing gimmick from the late 1800s, when the retailer received imported German ornaments shaped like a pickle and needed a sales pitch.

Elf on the Shelf requires nightly relocation.

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Elf on the Shelf Love it or loathe it, since 2005, moms and dads have either joyously or begrudgingly been hiding a toy elf each night from Thanksgiving to Christmas. More than 13 million elves have been �opted” since 2005 when Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell, published the book Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition that comes with the toy. Social media has even inspired some parents to set up elaborate scenarios for their elves𠅊s in: He TP𠆝 the tree! She filled the sink with marshmallows!

Yule logs date back to ancient winter solstice.

Yule Log - Yule logs were part of ancient winter solstice celebrations, but it was Americans who turned the wood burning into must-see TV. Back in 1966, WPIX-TV in New York City aired a continuous 17-second loop of a fireplace for three hours along with holiday music. That led to an eventual better production and nearly 20 years of annual viewing. Today, you can view the yule log on demand and on the web. (In fact, HISTORY offers its own yule log themed to the series Forged in Fire.)

Advent calendars count down the days.

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Advent Calendars - Early versions of this tradition, started in Germany in 1903 by publisher Gerhard Land, offered a way for children to count down to Christmas by opening one 𠇍oor” or “window” a day to reveal a Bible passage, poem or small gift. Since gaining mass popularity by 1920, the calendars have evolved to secular calendars that include daily gifts from mini bottles of wine to nail polish to chocolates to action figures.

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Gingerbread Houses - Although Queen Elizabeth I gets credit for the early decorating of gingerbread cookies, once again, it’s the Germans who lay claim to starting the gingerbread house tradition. And when the German Brothers Grimm wrote “Hansel and Gretel” a new holiday tradition was born. Today, the edible decorations are available in a slew of pre-packed kits.

In "The Nutcracker," Clara falls for a nutcracker who comes to life.

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The NutcrackerFor many, the holiday season is not complete without a trip to watch this ballet. With music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, the romantic tale of the young Clara’s Christmas Eve premiered Dec. 18, 1892, in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was performed for the first time outside of Russia in 1934 in England, and made its way to the United States in 1944 when it was performed by the San Francisco Ballet. It became a must-see event in America in the 1960s, as performances spread across the nation.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters - You can blame our neighbors to the north for this silly, ironic tradition that really gained steam in the 1980s. According to the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book, the sweaters became a party trend in Vancouver, Canada in 2001. And the trend is seemingly here to stay. According to Fox Business, the ugly sweater industry is a multi-million business, with websites such as Tipsy Elves, retailers including Macy’s, Kohl’s and Target, and even food chains jumping on the ugly bandwagon.

Leaving something for Santa.

Cookies and Milk for Santa - While leaving treats for Santa and his reindeer dates back to ancient Norse mythology, Americans began to sweeten up to the tradition during the Great Depression in the 1930s, as a sign of showing gratitude during a time of struggle.

Candy canes date back to the 17th century.

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Candy Canes - Whether devoured as a treat or hung on the tree as decoration, candy canes are the No. 1-selling non-chocolate candy during December, and date back to 1670 Germany. The red and white peppermint sticks arrived stateside in 1847, when a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio placed them on a tree. By the 1950s, an automated candy cane-making machine was invented, cementing their mass appeal.

American colonist devised some of the first eggnog recipes.

Boozy Eggnog - Nothing makes the holidays happier more quickly than a glass of spiked eggnog. Although the yuletide cocktail stems from posset, a drink made with hot curdled milk and ale or wine from medieval England, American colonists get credit for making it popular and adding rum. Even George Washington had a special recipe.

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Door Wreaths - Wreaths have been around since the ancient Greek and Roman times, but the evergreen Christmas wreath, often adorned with boughs of holly, eventually took on Christian meaning, with the circular shape representing eternal life and the holly leaves and berries symbolic of Christ’s crown of thorns and blood, according to the New York Times . Today’s wreaths, which come in all varieties, from flowers and fruit to glass balls and ribbon to artificial and themed, are most often seen as a secular winter tradition.

A Christmas card from the 1800s.

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Christmas Cards - The first official Christmas card debuted in 1843 England with the simple message, 𠇊 Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.” The idea of a mailed winter holiday greeting gradually caught on in both Britain and the U.S., with the Kansas City-based Hall Brothers (now Hallmark) creating a folded card sold with an envelope in 1915. Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, more than 1.6 billion holiday cards are sold annually.

"It&aposs a Wonderful Life" debuted in 1946.

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It’s a Wonderful LifeFrank Capra’s classic Christmas film debuted in 1946, with Jimmy Stewart playing George Bailey, a suicidal man who is shown what life would be like without him by an angel. But before becoming an annual TV-viewing tradition, the movie was a bit of a flop at the box office when it premiered, although it did receive five Oscar nominations (but no wins). A lapsed copyright in the 1970s allowed TV stations to air the movie for free. It has aired exclusively on NBC and USA since 1994.

Christmas Lights - Thomas Edison may be famous for the light bulb, but it was his partner and friend, Edward Hibberd Johnson, who had the bright idea of stringing bulbs around a Christmas tree in New York in 1882. By 1914, the lights were being mass produced and now some 150 million sets of lights are sold in the U.S. each year.

Santa has helped stores sell since at least 1890.

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Department Store Santa - Lining up at the mall to snap a photo of the kids on Santa’s lap may seem like a modern Christmas tradition, but it dates back to 1890, when James Edgar of Brockton, Massachusetts had a Santa suit made for him and dressed as the jolly fellow at his dry goods store. The gimmick caught on and a year later Santas could be found in many stores. While many point to Edgar as the original store Santa, Macy’s in New York claims it has been hosting Santa since 1862.

Fruit cake can be eaten—or tossed.

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Making Fun of Fruitcake - A favorite of the Brits (both Princess Diana and Kate Middleton served it at their weddings), fruitcake—that much-maligned mix of dried fruit, nuts and brandy—has been the subject of long-running American holiday jokes. Truman Capote wrote a short story about 𠇏ruitcake weather” in 1956, the small town of Manitou Springs, Colorado holds an annual Fruitcake Toss Day on January 3, and the dessert has become fodder for many a comedian. For example, in 1985 Johnny Carson cracked, “The worst Christmas gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

Cookie swaps help add variety.

Cookie Swaps - For more than 100 years, Americans have spent time baking up a storm to exchange cookies at one of these events where participants bring a dozen of their favorite cookies, then guests trade and head home with an array of goodies. In her book, The Cookie Party Cookbook, Robin Olson writes that she found references to 𠇌ookie parties” dating back to the late 1800s, and that they began to be called 𠇌ookie exchanges” by the 1930s, and 𠇌ookie swaps” in the �s. "Historically, cookie exchange parties have been a ladies-only event. Exchanges were hosted by friends, relatives, neighbors, social groups, clubs, office co-workers, teams, schools and churches," she writes. Now, they often include children and men and are frequently used as fund-raisers.


9 Tips for Keeping a Christmas Tree Fresh

Smith, as part of her work, leads the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, a statewide educational effort aimed at helping people take care of trees, forests and wildlife. The college’s outreach arm, Ohio State University Extension, runs the program.

Below, Smith shares key tips for keeping one’s tannenbaum in possession of its needles.

  • Make sure the tree is fresh. Cut it yourself at a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm. Or, if you shop at a retail lot …
  • Take a light grip on one of the tree’s branches. Then pull the branch lightly through your hand. A fresh tree will lose few, if any, green needles. Two other options are to …
  • Hold the tree by its trunk and shake it. Or bounce the bottom of the trunk on the ground. Again, a fresh tree should lose few, if any, green needles.
  • Keep the tree in a cool, protected place if you don’t plan to take it indoors right away. Put it under an overhang, say, or in an unheated garage or porch.
  • If you’re going to store the tree outside for a couple of days, put the end of its trunk in a bucket of water. But first …
  • If the tree has been cut for more than 6-8 hours — and so has been out of water that long — make a new, straight cut at the bottom of the trunk. Use a saw to cut an inch or so off the end. Otherwise, during that time, sap will have started to seal the original cut. The tree won’t take up water as well, or maybe not at all, and will dry out sooner than it should.
  • Keep the room cooler than normal, if possible, once you set up the tree. If you can, turn down the thermostat, or close or partly close the room’s heat vents. This slows down the tree’s drying out.
  • For the same reason, locate the tree away from heat vents, fireplaces, radiators and windows that get direct sunlight.
  • Last but not least, keep the tree, yes, watered. Ideally, use a tree stand that can hold at least 1 gallon of water, and more for bigger trees. The key: Keep it filled. Don’t let the water get lower than the end of the trunk. If the water gets too low, the end will seal with sap. And you know what happens then: Less or no uptake of water premature drying out.

Regarding the second and third tips: Brown needles are another story. Every year, a growing Christmas tree normally sheds some of its needles. Thousands of these dead brown needles may collect in the branches.

That’s why Christmas tree sellers often give a tree a good shake — either by hand or by using a special machine — when someone buys the tree: to get rid of these perfectly normal but still possibly carpet-messing brown needles.


Top Recommended Christmas Books-

Polar Express obviously a popular recommendation

The Gift of the Magi This was recommended by many, I am looking forward to reading it. A longer book for older kids and adults.

This is the Stable we haven’t gotten this one yet, it talks about getting the stable ready for Jesus.

Santa Mouse Many of you said you love this one since you were little, I ordered it, but haven’t gotten it yet.

Christmas Oranges A short sweet Christmas book about thinking of others at Christmas time.

Little Blue Trucks ** Finn loved this Christmas book!

The Visit, the Legend of the Night Before Christmas we haven’t gotten this yet, but several of you listed it as a Christmas book favorite

The Life of our Lord We started this one as a family- it is a chapter book. Written by Charles Dickens for his children about the Savior.

The Little Match Girl a long-time favorite of ours

Autobiography of Santa Read a chapter a day in the month of December up until Christmas. Love this tradition.

Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect Such a sweet message I loved this quote “small pine jaw that if one did one’s very best, what anyone else said didn’t matter”

The Legend of the Candy Cane Ella said this was another one of her favorites! It is a wonderful message about the Savior and what His sacrifice means for us.

The Crippled Lamb Another sweet book about the birth of Christ and a lamb who realized God has a plan for us.

The Jolly Christmas Postman we haven’t gotten this yet. But it comes with letters that you open and read! It follows the adventure of a jolly postman on his journey through a fairy-tale land, delivering mail to a variety of fairy-tale characters.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama **Top recommended and it was way cuter than I thought it would be, Finn loved it too.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever a cute kind-of silly book about a nativity pageant and some kids who learned about the birth of the Savior

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree ** Ella said this one was her favorite

The Night Before Christmas another traditional Christmas favorite- I love to collect different editions.

Who Is Coming To Our House Perfect one for younger kids- Finn likes it and I think the message is so sweet.

The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas We haven’t gotten this one yet- but I ordered it. It was recommend a lot!

You are Special This isn’t necessarily a Christmas Book. It is one we read all year, but a lot of you recommended it as a Christmas Favorite “Remember you are special because I made you, and I don’t make mistakes.”

North Pole Ninjas This comes with a list of activities kids can do to serve! This is one of Lola’s favorite books.

An Invisible Thread: True Story This is an adult book that isn’t necessarily Christmas. But it has some Christmas scenes. I love how it is centered on giving and loving others.

The Mistletoe Promise This is a chapter book for adults. I saw it was free on Hoopla, I am going to listen to it! I really like the author, he wrote the book below too.

Christmas Box I read this a long time ago, but enjoyed it. A heartwarming story of parental love, healing, and Christmas. I heard there is a movie too.


Restaurants You Have To Try In Maui

We love the food in Hawaii. Everything tastes so fresh that even when you’re eating something unhealthy, you still don’t feel quite as bad about it. When you add in the state’s proclivity towards making fabulous Mai Tais, and I’m sold. While there’s a lot of great restaurants in Maui, there’s also a lot of tourist traps that aren’t worth your time. We ate our way around the island so you won’t have to, and today we’re sharing the places you can’t miss.

I’m a sucker for a good deal, and Monkeypod has happy hour twice a day where you can get $10 pizzas, half price appetizers, and majorly discounted cocktails. The food is delicious and the ocean views are beautiful.

-Coconuts Fish Cafe

I was a little apprehensive about Coconuts because I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants, but the fish tacos here were out of this world and affordable.

-The Mill House

This is another place to come for happy hour if you’re looking for a great deal, and an unmatched view.

-Mamas Fish House

There’s a reason that this is the restaurant everyone tells you to go to when you go to Maui. It’s incredibly pricey, but a great experience and a must-do for a special occasion or anniversary.

This is the best breakfast food I’ve ever had in my life. Try getting there when they open, because the line gets long, fast.

-Ulanis Shaved Ice

If you’re looking for good shaved ice in Maui, this should be your go-to spot.

-The Tin Roof

Most flights to the island arrive around lunch time, so this quick food stop by the airport should be your go-to.

-South Maui Fish Company

This food truck didn’t just have the best poke we had on Maui, but the best poke we’ve had in our lives.


The joy business

Springfield Tree Farm in York County said they are seeing supply shortages but decided not to raise prices on trees. Low supply and high demand is driving up prices on real trees all around the country this year. (Photo: Kevin Moore, York Daily Record)

Regardless of a short supply of real trees and looming tariffs threatening the artificial tree industry, growers and sellers alike say they are not letting the challenges steal the Christmas spirit.

“We’re really in the joy business,” Harman said.

Strathmeyer agreed. He said he and his workers try to make the tree-buying experience a fun one. At their York Expo Center location, they have a play area for kids, photo opportunities for families and more.

“You want to be as happy and helpful as you can be. Unlike stores you might visit every week or once a month, people are coming here once a year. You have to make a lasting impression. We are thankful our local families have allowed us to be part of their traditions,” Strathmeyer said.

For Bortner at Springfield Tree Farm, it’s her favorite time of year.

“It’s a happy place,” she said. “When people pick out their Christmas trees, everyone is in a good mood.”


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